A good night’s sleep is more vital to mind and body wellness than quite possibly anything else. No amount of exercise or nutritious food can make up for the benefits of a solid night’s sleep. Unfortunately, life and its accompanying stresses can often prohibit us from soaking in some much-needed snooze time.
According to the Sleep Foundation, when we don’t get enough quality sleep, it can impair our “executive function”—a set of skills needed to excel in all realms of daily life. We need good sleep to feed our creativity, high-level innovative thinking and problem-solving abilities. Without quality rest, we fail to function at an optimal level, which may result in negative physical and mental consequences.
To help you and your body get the most out of your nightly downtime, we’ve gathered up a few sleep hygiene techniques that are known to encourage a longer and more restful night’s sleep, starting tonight!
Stick to a schedule
Sticking to a schedule is the key to maintaining regularity of any kind. Waking up the same time every morning and hitting the sack the same time every night will help keep your body’s natural internal clock, or circadian rhythm that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle, operating properly.
Always wind down
Your mind and body need adequate time to deactivate from the day and shift into full relaxation that primes you for sleep. When nearing bedtime, put down the electronics, dim the lights and set the mood for slumber. Bright lights and too much screen time can easily inhibit your ability to unwind and even stifle your quality of sleep.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
A relaxing routine right before bed can work wonders on your sleep cycle. Practicing a few rituals in a quiet room can help battle sleeplessness and encourage a more restful sleep. Try reading a book, meditating, stretching or listening to calming music. Any activity centered around slow, deep breathing in a quiet environment should do the trick.
If you regularly experience trouble staying asleep, be sure to avoid naps, particularly in the afternoon. Dozing off too close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall back asleep and stay asleep at night. If daily naps are a necessity for you, aim for a short midday catnap as opposed to a late-afternoon power nap.
Working out can offer exceptional health benefits, including an increase in sleep quality. No need to exercise to the point of exhaustion–––physical activity of any kind can increase the time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase, according to Sleep Doctor.
Make your room sleep-friendly
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Keep only what offers you peace and calm in this space. Arrange your room with the most ideal sleep conditions in mind. This can include soft lighting, cool temperatures (preferably between 60 and 67 degrees for optimal sleep), curtains or blackout blinds, humidifiers, fans, noise-cancelling ear plugs and, if you prefer, a “white” noise machine. Make sure your pillows, bedding and mattress are soft, supportive, clean and in good condition as well.
Avoid the obvious
Enjoying a glass of wine before bed may sound satisfying, but you may be doing your sleep a disservice. Some of life’s best indulgences, like alcohol, cigarettes, desserts and coffee (yes, this goes for decaf too!), can tremendously hurt quality of sleep. Heavy meals should also be avoided too close to bedtime. Eating big, rich or spicy meals can cause discomfort and indigestion, making it hard to sleep.
If you’ve made an effort to address physical, mental and environmental factors and are still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to seek help. Speak with your doctor or find a sleep professional to assist you in the right approach to sleep health and wellness.
Born and raised by the beach in Southern California, Valeri Spiwak lives and breathes West Coast culture and its surrounding artistic charm. Valeri, with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and a Minor in French, continuously seeks to explore the beautiful and obscure and shares her adventures through captivating wordplay, clever writing and skillful copy.